Colorado Corn (@COgrown) research into more sustainable agriculture

Photo credit Wikimedia.

From Colorado Corn:

One of the top priorities of the Colorado Corn Administrative Committee (CCAC) has long been assisting local farmers in their quest to produce more food, feed, fuel and fiber with less resources and through more economically and agronomically sustainable production methods.

And that tradition continued in 2017, as the CCAC’s Research Action Team in January committed another $130,100 to various projects focusing on drought-tolerance, crop disease mitigation, hybrid development, crop residue management, and other aspects of sustainability in agriculture.

These investments come in addition to the $650,000-plus that the CCAC invested in research endeavors from 2011-2016.

For decades, the CCAC has provided dollars – as well as input and other resources – to a long list of projects that have evaluated irrigation practices, alternative water-transfer methods, seed varieties, root structure, meat quality, farm safety, environmental impacts, biofuels and rotational fallowing, among a number of other focuses.

Along the way, the CCAC has teamed up with municipalities, businesses, universities, research facilities, the state of Colorado and many others – relationships the organization will continue building upon in the never-ending effort to bring more tools and knowledge to Colorado’s producers.

The funds for these research projects comes from a one-penny-per-bushel assessment on corn grown in Colorado, with the farmers who serve as CCAC board members ultimately deciding where those dollars are invested.

“The Colorado Corn Administrative Committee invests and leverages its dollars and resources toward endeavors that run the gamut of market development, outreach, education and regulatory affairs. But our research projects rank among the most important investments, if not the most critical,” said CCAC President Mike Lefever, a Longmont-area resident who farms ground near Haxtun. “Taking continuous steps forward in producing more with less resources – and discovering the most sustainable methods of doing so – is absolutely vital, not only for us farmers, but for everyone. And with the knowledge gained from these research projects, we continue taking the needed steps forward.”

Following meetings and presentations in recent weeks, the CCAC’s Research Action Team agreed to fund the following projects:

• $48,249 to Colorado State University’s John McKay, to fund various local efforts needed for involving Colorado in a national collaborative project, aimed at identifying the specific genes that cause elite hybrids to be sensitive to drought.

• $43,663 to CSU’s Kirk Broders, to further examine the bacterial pathogen Xanthomonas vasicola pv vasculorum (Xvv) – officialy reported in the U.S. in 2016 (although it had likely been present before that), with some of the most severe disease pressure observed in Colorado. The information gained from the research will be used to develop mitigation strategies and outreach and education materials.

• $30,000 to CSU’s Todd Gaines, to lead research on the glyphosate-resistant weed Palmer amaranth (Amaranthus palmeri), with specific goals aimed at addressing environmental and economic sustainability for growers, providing practical value for weed management, and addressing management issues related to biotechnology.

• $8,188 to CSU Extension’s Joel Schneekloth, to quantify the effects of residue removal and/or tillage on winter soil moisture recharge in irrigated agriculture, as well as the impacts to irrigation requirements for the following growing season and other aspects of these corn-production methods.


The projects listed above come in addition to the Colorado Corn Administrative Committee’s investments in other ongoing or recently concluded research projects, which are :

• $141,282 ($47,094 per year, over three years) to Colorado State University’s Raj Khosla, Robin Reich and Louis Longchamps, to research and determine the most productive, efficient, profitable and sustainable practices in irrigated corn production. In particular, this project will examine the agronomic advantages of using variable-rate and precision irrigation methods, precision-nitrogen management, and variable-seeding rates.

• $45,747 over three years to Colorado State University to evaluate precision water and nutrient management practices.

• $31,580 to Kirk Broders at Colorado State University, to complete a comprehensive survey of bacterial, fungal and viral pathogens of corn grown in Colorado, including foliar, ear, stalk and root pathogens. This information will later be used to direct future pathological studies of corn at CSU. Read more here.

• $30,425 to Colorado State University’s Troy Bauder and Erik Wardle, for their “BMP Research and Demonstration” project, which over two years will monitor the effects of improved nutrient management methods commonly practiced by corn growers, to better understand the agronomic and water quality benefits from these practices. This is expected to be useful in a triennial review for the Colorado Water Quality Control Commission, helping quantify the good work producers are already doing in this area. Read more here.

• $26,700 to Erick Carlson at CSU, to develop additional methods for reducing deep percolation of nitrates into groundwater, through investigating the functioning of wetlands created by irrigation runoff to trap and process nitrates. Read for here.

• $26,520 to CSU for evaluation of drought-tolerant corn varieties in dryland conditions.

• $25,000 to CSU’s Phil Westra and Scott Nissen, for various objectives at the Center for Ecology, Evolution & Management of Pesticide Resistance.

• $24,850 to Godsey Precision AG LLC, to look in-depth at water savings with variable-rate irrigation for farmers using water from the Ogallala Aquifer. Specifically it will examine the water-holding capacity of the top two feet of soil and the crop’s water use throughout the season, and also determine the differences in fields with 39,600, 36,000 and 32,000 plants per acre, and how many soil probes are needed in-season to accurately monitor soil moisture.

• $21,240 to Jerry Johnson and Sally Sauer with Colorado State University, to continue testing yield performance of four drought tolerant corn hybrids compared to four traditional, non-drought tolerant hybrids, at three different plant densities, under dryland production conditions in northeast Colorado.

• $17,287 to Louis Comas with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service, to continue overseeing development of a tool for monitoring and managing water stress in corn.

• $15,604 to Louise Comas with the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service, to create a tool to help corn producers identify when their crop is going into stress, help estimate potential yield impacts of that stress, and help producers in assessing potential impacts from constraints in their water supplies.

• $11,900 to the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service for a 2016 water stress monitoring project.

• $3,866 to Joel Schneekloth with the Colorado Water Institute, to study the impact of residue removal and tillage upon the soil characteristics important to crop production and crop-production economics.

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